‘Beauty in Disorder’: An Interview with the Chinese-based MARRKNULL

vor 3 years

London Fashion Week is always THE place to discover new designers and unpolished gems soon to be bright and unmissable.

The Fall / Winter 2021 edition of the fashion (online for now) gathering was no exemption and introduced us to some labels which we will definitely be keep our eyes on. Our forecasting ended successfully as the label MARRKNULL was brought to our attention.

Between traditional and modern Chinese culture, inspired by architecture and martial art movies, the label MARRKNULL, created by Wei Wang and Tim Shi, immediately appealed to us. They accepted to meet us online all the way from Shanghai to share the secrets of their creative process and their views on the current age of fashion. 

Fräulein: Your last collection is an homage to martial art movies. The action scenes in marital art movies often feature the characters hovering in the air. It’s such an iconic cinematic technique. How did you get the idea to incorporate this into your runway?

Wei: The idea of ​​wire was inspired by the special light effects during fighting scenes in the martial art films of the 90s. In this collection, we mainly wanted to explore the current state of the collision between the conservative past and newly modern technology of China’s countyside. The reason why the wire is retained in the video is to show the reality behind the special effects of science and technology. This is a reflection of the magical reality of China’s counties.

How did the idea of ​​deconstructing and rethinking the garment come to you in your creative process?

MARRKNULL has been trying to modernize the expression of Chinese culture in clothing, yet our Chinese elements are not only limited to traditional culture. We deconstruct and reinterpret the contemporary culture that China has accumulated in the process of its development. A kind of order is found in the chaotic collision of the county culture, which forms the unique MARRKNULL style.
Our inspirations also come from the architecture of Chinese cities that were built using a lot of different styles, evolving over time. This merging of very different architectural influences is very present in our design, thanks to Tim, who majored in architecture previously.

Is representing Chinese culture through fashion meaningful for you personally?

Sure, we believe that clothing is one of the most direct ways of expressing culture. We also believe that there is no typical ‘Chinese fashion’ style anymore. We tried to create a style that is very unique and modern, while using elements of our past.

The pieces of this collection show a worn-out, faded effect, which bring a melancholic gaze over the rest of the collection. What was the intention with incorporating such a feeling in the collection?

We try to use colors and fabrics with calm, slightly faded and worn-out effects, hoping to find a touch of nostalgia in the slightly magical time travel experience, through the collision of conceptual silhouettes and worn-out color textures, as our interpretation of intersections of different eras. 
Once again, it is also to explore the relation between modernity and the past, by using a very modern shape with recycled vintage fabrics.

The last looks can be worn in three different ways. How did you manage to achieve such complexity in these garment constructions?

The last look is actually three kinds of clothes, all connected at the waist. Last season, we made two types of garments with a cross-connecting structure at the waist. This season, we deepened the past design and combined the three garment structures. We use upcycled garments to repurpose them into those elaborate looks. It sometimes took more than 8 knitted sweaters put together to construct one piece of the collection.

Your style is defined as “de-design” or “anti-fashion”, What are you thought on that?

The style of MARRKNULL is influenced by the daily life and style of the women in the country. We wanted to reflect the feeling of the women who wear, match, and reflect the beauty found in disorder.

The looks we see often in this collection are a blend of common materials, such as denim, paired with much more refined fabrics like lace. How would you explain this duality?

We are inspired by women in the countryside. Their styles are not defined by season, time or occasion, they just wear what they have. Like with the all denim looks this season, we styled it with a shirt made of TV cloths, which use to be a very popular element of home decor in the 90’s in China.

Your hanger bag is perhaps one of your most recognizable pieces, and now it comes in a mini version. We absolutely love it. What was the idea behind this bag?

The inspiration for the hanger bag comes from the clothes drying scenes that can be seen everywhere in Chinese streets. The clothes and sheets of different colors are full of natural beauty in their random linear arrangement. We wanted to restore this state through the hanger bag.

Did you learn something new in the making of this collection?

I learned how to hang myself by a wire! During the shooting, we went up and experienced the same feeling the models did, of being hung in the air. 

Your label is based in Beijing yet you chose to present your collections in London. Any particular reason why?

The city culture of Beijing has always inspired us, we are so familiar with it, it’s home. But London is a very open and international city. We presented our collection in London because it allows more people to see what we are doing.

What were the challenges of designing fashion this year, in a context of the global pandemic?

Because of COVID, there were many restrictions on production and the lookbook shooting, as well as on the sales and show. But this also gave us a lot of courage to try out new expressions within these bounds.

How do you see the future of fashion?

The pandemic has given the fashion industry the time and opportunity to rethink. As a result, the online fashion industry has been promoted. We believe that the future of fashion must be more digital.

Check out more of the MARRKNULL collection here 

Interview by Marien Brandon
All images courtesy of MARRKNULL


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